Healthy future for Felixstowe?

FELIXSTOWE should go back to the future - and rebrand itself as the spa resort it once was according to one resident.Back in the 19th century when the seaside town was the fashionable holiday spot for Royalty, government ministers and the London set, it was its health-giving spa waters which helped draw the crowds and make it the playground of the rich.

By Richard Cornwell

FELIXSTOWE should go back to the future - and rebrand itself as the spa resort it once was according to one resident.

Back in the 19th century when the seaside town was the fashionable holiday spot for Royalty, government ministers and the London set, it was its health-giving spa waters which helped draw the crowds and make it the playground of the rich.

Clean sea air - away from the smogs of the capital - and bracing walks along the prom, relaxing on the beach, and the quiet nature of the town, were all added attractions.


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Now consultants looking at the future of the resort have been asked to consider whether taking a step back in time, matched with the current drive for health and vitality and the environment, could be the way forward.

Resident Helen Lakey has asked Felixstowe Futures Group to consider branding the town The Spa of the East.

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She has carried out research which shows people once loved to visit the town for the medicinal qualities of the spa waters, climate, and its sheltered south-facing position.

Mrs Lakey of Trimley St Mary said: “Some of these assets are still with us - perhaps even the water? Why don't we make the most of them and, at relatively little cost, re-brand Felixstowe, as The Spa of the East.

“Felixstowe was clearly believed to have health-enhancing properties in the past - which is presumably why the ill-fated Herman de Stern was built - and one subject of undoubted interest to the twenty first century citizen is 'health'.

“Felixstowe is in a unique position to become a modern-day health resort. We can also capitalise on our other existing assets.”

She added that Felixstowe has Blue Flag beaches and a lovely swimming pool that could be promoted as one of the healthy leisure pursuits to come to the town to enjoy and also suggested improving cycle paths.

Mrs Lakey said: “Boating, water sports, golf, tennis, bowling, kite-flying are all waiting to be exploited more. We have a wealth of healthy leisure opportunities.

“And let's not forget walking. With beautiful rivers on two sides, and a sheltered bay, with an extensive seafront, on another, the walking possibilities are endless.”

Mrs Lakey, who with her husband Peter previously owned The Wharf in Felixstowe, said the mineral waters could be sold again, and there could be opportunities for alternative health practitioners.

How do you think Felixstowe should be developed as a resort? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Felixstowe's spa waters

In the 1800s water poured from the cliffs near where the Spa Pavilion stands today, said to come from a spring 177ft below.

The springs were said to be “Natural Medicinal Water” and contained dissolved chloride of sodium, carbonate of lime, traces of magnesia, iron, sulphur and phosphates.

It was reckoned to cure dyspepsia and anaemia, and anyone with depression, aches, pains or suffering overwork was encouraged to visit and try the waters, said to equal those of world-famous spa towns of Baden- Baden, Kissingen and Wiesbaden.

FASTFACTS: Spa of the East attractions . . .

Felixstowe has more hours of sunshine than anywhere in the UK and the second lowest rainfall.

Alternative health practitioners could set up new businesses using carnelians, agates, jet and amber which can be found on the beach for crystal therapy - an upmarket Spa Hotel could offer a range of treatments.

There could be more promotion of Felixstowe as birdwatcher's paradise, with the nature reserves at Landguard and Trimley.

An “eco centre” could be set up with solar panels, wind turbines, recycled water, grass roof, selling merchandise for naturalists and animal lovers, with a wholesome café, outdoor seating and picnic area.

The Port of Felixstowe could be an attraction with a landscaped car park, picnic area and even a panoramic café/restaurant where people could while away the hours watching the busy shipping activities.

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CONSULTANTS David Lock Associates are drawing up a masterplan to shape the future of Felixstowe's seafront and town centre.

The company wants to hear as many views as possible on the way the resort should develop and be regenerated - and is urging people to put forward their ideas.

People can e-mail felixstowe@suffolkcoastal.gov.uk or write to Felixstowe Futures, Suffolk Coastal District Council, Melton Hill, Woodbridge, IP12 1AU.

All ideas will be investigated fully and a public exhibition will be held during the early part of the summer and work on the masterplan is expected to be completed in the autumn.

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